Sri Lankan forces advance towards Elephant Pass despite threats from Tamil Tigers
Colombo, 10 September, (Asiantribune.com): Foreign and local media reports claim that the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) is advancing towards Elephant Pass, disregarding the threats issued by S. Tamilselvan, the Political head of the LTTE.
After facing a heavy barrage of fire from the LTTE on Friday the SLA moved out of the FDL in Muhamalai and advanced into LTTE territory on Saturday, according to defense spokesperson.
Media estimates that at least 27 soldiers were killed and 113 injured as the army backed by air support advanced into LTTE-held areas, taking control of the first forward defense lines held by LTTE at Muhamalai.
"Troops have captured the LTTE forward defence bunker line in Muhamalai and Eluthumaduwal," said the Sunday Observer, a state-sponsored weekly.
The advance of troops was slowed by anti-personnel mines and artillery and heavy mortar fire directed from Elephant Pass.
Faced with the new offensive, Tamilselvan declared that it will be all out war if the SLA does not withdraw from Sampoor.
S. Puleedevan, head of the rebels' peace secretariat, too told media that the SLA "occupation of their territory was tantamount to a declaration of war."
Declaring that the Ceasefire Agreement was "in tatters" he warned that the Tigers would launch a counter-attack to "evict" the SLA from Sampoor.
Keheliya Rambukwella, the defence spokesman, told media "We have to accept this challenge from Puleedevan."
Despite these threats the SLA advanced yesterday "in the open terrain ahead of the Muhamalai and Eluthumaduwal Forward Defence lines in the face of heavy resistance by the LTTE", the media reported.
"According to reports from Muhamalai, the LTTE has withdrawn to its secondary defence line following security force's advancement.
Keheliya Rambukwella maintains that the government will never withdraw from Sampoor because the Tamil Tigers had been using it to shell its vital naval base in Trincomalee. This harbor is the central point used to supply the army bases in the Jaffna peninsula in the north.
Besides, the Tiger grip on Sampoor was a serious threat to the Indian oil storage terminal, a Japanese flour mill and a cement factory, he said.
He also accused the Tigers of escalating violence through a continuous artillery and mortar barrage near Muhamalai, the southernmost FDL in the Jaffna peninsula on Friday.
At least 27 soldiers were killed and 113 injured as the army backed by air support advanced into LTTE-held areas, taking control of the first forward defense lines held by LTTE at Muhamalai, they said.
"Sri Lankan security forces retaliated the LTTE attack, with the assistance of air force fighter jets which raided identified LTTE artillery launching pads," the defense ministry said.
"A number of LTTE bunkers were destroyed during the retaliatory attacks," said a defense spokesperson.
- Asian Tribune -